FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Just as Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, commanding general of XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, arrived at the 16th Military Police Brigade's memorial ceremony June 29, the clouds opened and it began to pour. Soldiers in formation stood perfectly still as the raindrops ran down their faces.

Family members huddled under a yellow and black tent as the National Anthem played softly in the rain. Everyone at the 16 MP Bde. Memorial Field knew the importance of this ceremony, the honoring of their fallen comrades, friends, husbands, fathers and sons.

"This memorial represents their sacrifice and represents a patriot who gave everything," said Col. Mary Maier, commander of the 16th MP Bde. "But most importantly, these Soldiers believed in something bigger ... they believed in you.

"They made a choice to join the U.S. Army in a time of war ... we owe them our thanks on this special day," said Maier.

Specialist Jonathan O'Neill, 549th MP Company; Pfc. Brandon Owens, 118th MP Co.; Staff Sgt. Christopher Rudzinski, 293rd MP Co.; Spc. Brandon Steffey, 178th MP Co.; Maj. David Audo, 22nd MP Battalion; Staff Sgt. Daniel Merriweather, 118th MP Co.; and Spc. Geoffrey Whitsitt, 118th MP Co., were honored for their ultimate sacrifice. As if they were there in the flesh, as their names were read aloud, the rain stopped and the sun shone through the dark gray clouds. And as quick as the rain ended, after the last note of 'Taps' sounded, the rain began again.

Headquartered at Fort Bragg, the 16th MP Bde. is the only airborne-qualified military police brigade in the U.S. Army and has multiple units currently deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Additionally, the brigade is responsible for providing daily law enforcement, force protection and community assistance to the Soldiers, Families and visitors to the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg.

"For over 200 years people have given their lives for us," said Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Spradling. "It's only our duty to pay our respects."

Page last updated Fri July 9th, 2010 at 11:11